In the Spring, when I had been resoundingly rejected by every single medical school I had applied to, I couldn’t help but wonder if I should take it as a sign from the universe to think about alternate career paths. I know that my situation was not uncommon, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. My bruised ego and I ended up in my current program because it sounded interesting, relevant, and would wrap up with ample time to reapply in the 2021 cycle. It’s been extremely rigorous (despite the fact that it’s been completely remote), but I have thoroughly enjoyed every class I’ve taken. Once I made peace with the fact that my timeline won’t look the way I once wanted, I’ve started to really enjoy the journey and this time.
This past semester, I posted my best-ever academic term. In graduate school. In the middle of a pandemic. This has been a huge confidence boost, but also a reaffirmation that I’m still on the right track. I know that grades are not necessarily what determine a good physician, but they are what medical schools care about. And I’ve got my foot in the door. Before this, I feel like I had the un-trainable (and unfortunately under-valued) attributes of a good physician- empathy, creativity, grit. Unfortunately, these couldn’t be appreciated by the system that was blinded by my crappy grades. Like when you notice that someone you’re talking to has a massive chunk of spinach in their teeth, and you suddenly can’t hear a word they say.
If I had listened to the rejection, let it decide for me, I would have been giving up my purpose. Revamping my application GPA for the better won’t be what gets me into medical school. What it will do, hopefully, is get me past those GPA filters so that an actual human is able to read my story and actually connect it to my trajectory. Perfect students are dime a dozen in the medical school applicant pool, but I have confidence that I can hold up to comparison. I recognize that not everyone has the financial and social support to put themselves through this harrowing process yet again. I hope that my journey is applicable to anyone dealing with something similar- you don’t always have to accept the cards that have been dealt to you, especially when it means giving up your aspirations.
Having said all of that, it’s fucking exhausting being resilient. I hope anyone reading this knows that I’m not the person writing these posts all the time. I am often irreversibly grumpy, especially during the window between waking up and drinking coffee. The reason it’s been so long since I’ve written one of these posts is because I’ve been struggling to feel optimistic about the future during this time. I have a really hard time focusing solely on the present without a definitive end point (a deadline, or event), and it’s left me feeling uninspired- and like I need some new hobbies. Throughout the entire pandemic, I have been continuously learning that people are just not as inherently good as I had believed. The unwillingness of some to participate in wearing a mask, an act almost-entirely for the protection of others, is something I cannot comprehend. I’ve been depleted of my optimism after months of being confronted by the ugliness of humanity while the future is so uncertain. I know that we will dig ourselves out of this hole, but we need to be kind to each other. This is a weird time for everyone, and I think we are all learning about the necessity of being nice to ourselves. So feel your feelings, it’s ok to mourn the life you had a year ago.